Separating Real Pain From Imagined Pain Is Not Easy

Pain is stressful

Anticipated pain is stressful and always lasts longer than the actual pain itself. This is an issue I struggle with in relation to my feet.

One thing I know for certain is that when anyone touches my feet, it will hurt – a lot.

Even just thinking about it can cause my feet to hurt. How is that possible? Likely, because pain scars the body memory. Once you’ve been burned, you never forget that sensation.

My feet have endured many surgeries. I also have very sensitive peripheral nerves, and a very aware central nervous system, all in all – not a good combination.

Pain is stressful

Yet foot care is important for our overall good health and that means much more than just having a daily shower.

Tending to toenails is a big part of foot hygiene. If you’ve ever had ingrown toenails you’ll definitely know what I mean. Personally, I would give anything if I could figure out how to stop my toenails from growing.

Okay, I know it’s not a pleasant topic but it causes me a lot of distress. And, to make matters worse, I can no longer do this self-care task for myself.

This leaves me at the mercy of another with my most vulnerable feature. I need to trust someone else to wield those dreaded clippers.

My feet, especially my toes, are like live uncapped electrical wires. The slightest touch can trigger an electric shock that sends me into full fight or flight mode. My feet jump and jerk like drunken breakdancers; I cannot control them.

In fact, if I were an animal they’d definitely have to give me a tranquilizer before any foot care. All I have to say about that suggestion is – where do I sign up?

Seriously, though, trust is the key ingredient that now sees me through my foot care nightmares.

And, luckily for me, my partner and I came together soon after I lost this ability. She has helped me immensely – especially as, shortly before that, I endured the foot care year of hell. Geez, I was really stressed about how I would find someone to help me with this difficult challenge.

Think about it, is this something you’ll find on Craig’s List or Kijiji? Would you respond to an ad that said, “Woman seeks gentle toenail trimmer – but admits she is the patient from hell.”?

Oh sure, there are plenty of good foot care nurses. In fact, my neighbour is one of them. I’ve yet to invite her for tea and request that she bring tools. Then again, she is a professional who suits up along with a mask, gloves, and has gadgets that are so sparkling clean you need sunglasses.

My sensitivity (now that’s an understatement) makes it harder for my partner, who fortunately has a veterinary background (I wasn’t joking about the tranquilizer). We spend a lot of time calming down my anticipated pain reaction before we even start to focus on the job at hand. Danger awards should definitely be given to caregivers.

I once received a pedicure as a birthday gift and recall thinking how little this person knew me. Of course, it was re-gifted. I can only imagine how fun that would be – or not. Oh, how I wish I could be like other ladies I know who actually love spending a day at the spa.

Pain is stressful and it’s difficult to separate real from imagined pain once it becomes deeply imprinted. Believe me, it takes continual effort. These days, I’m leaning more toward trust and further away from the notion of torture and, for me, it seems to be working.



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